Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Learning notes: It was the stench

Things we did

Last week, our friends, the Tillets, invited us to come along on their trip to the zoo. I thought it would be the perfect week to study Noah's story.

On Monday, we read various renditions of Noah's Ark. I checked out nearly all the picture books our local libraries had about Noah. There were so, so many (there were versions about Noah's trees, Noah's dog, etc.). Our favorite was probably the one by Jerry Pinkney, intricately illustrated with simple prose. Here is a quote that stayed with me:
And the Lord loved Noah.
God spoke to Noah.
Noah put down his basket and listened.
We also liked the one by Peter Spier. His illustrations were thoughtful and detailed. We compared the different versions and talked about how faithful each of the authors were at telling the original story. Some ventured far, far away from the Biblical account. Others were nearly unrecognizable. I thought it was important for the boys (especially Emeth, for now) to learn to distinguish between fact and fiction.

And we decorated paper boats.

But the zoo was indisputably the highlight of our week. The opportunity to spend time with friends is so precious, and so much fun (Thank you, Callie, Lei, and Kalina!).

Khesed was exclaiming "A!!!! A!!!!! A!!!!!" (for alligators).

Things we pondered and cherished

We pondered the smell.

More specifically, we pondered the smell of poop in the Australian House. For some reasons, the excrement of wombats and fruit bats was more pungent than the excrement of animals in other exhibitions. It was so memorable that we were still thinking about it days later in the comforts of our home.

It was the stench that led us to a cherished discussion about obeying God.

I find it funny that stenchy places have their ways of speaking to Hans and me about divine things.

The conversation started when they commented on how they really did not like the odor in the wombats' house. And I told them it was very likely that Noah's ark smelled just like that, if not worse. Noah and his family were rescued. Yes, their lives were saved, and they gave praise and thanks to the Lord. But building the ark was hard work. Planting food to take into the ark was hard work. Caring for the animals was hard work. It was not fun to be teased by their neighbors, to be thought as foolish. It was not (always) fun to be in a stuffy ark with lots of animals. Noah was very eager to know when the water would subside.

Obeying God is often hard work, and often not very fun.

*crickets chirping*

I don't think they understand this quite yet.

Our conversation also made me think about what I prioritize as their mother. Have I demonstrated through my parenting that fun and comfort and happiness (by themselves) are Most Important? Do I overemphasize, do I idolize, these secondary things? I would have to think about this a little more, but the idea itself is a little unsettling.

Finally, we loved the dolphins. It was really interesting for me to watch Khesed participating and responding to his surrounding. In our past field trips, he would sit back and quietly soak up his environment. During the dolphin show, he kept signing the letter "D" with his hand, and he would sign the letter "B" when he saw the dolphins playing with the ball. And because he is Khesed, my loudest child, his signs were coupled with exclamations, "Deeee!!!! Deeeee!!!! Deeee!!!! Beeee!!!! Beeee!!!!! Deeee!!!!! Deeeee!!!!!"

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